Suicides by firearm reach all-time high, rising 11% since 2019: CDC

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(NEW YORK) — Suicides by firearm have reached an all-time high, increasing 11% between 2019 and 2022, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published Thursday.

An estimated 27,024 Americans died of suicide by firearm in 2022, compared to 23,941 people in 2019.

All race/ethnicity groups saw firearm suicide rates increase from 2019 to 2022, with American Indian and Alaska Native people experiencing the highest rate increase, at 66%.

The highest firearm suicide rates in 2022 were observed among white people, followed by American Indian and Alaska Native people. All other race/ethnicity groups, including Asian or Pacific Islanders, Black and Hispanic people, all had rates in 2022 half or less the rate of those top two groups. The report did not include breakdowns by sex or age.

Researchers suggest promoting secure firearm storage, as well as providing counseling and social services, as ways to potentially help reduce firearm suicides. In general, strategies to reduce suicide risk also include “fostering positive social connections, identifying and supporting persons at risk, and addressing underlying inequities in economic security and housing,” according to the CDC report’s authors.

The new CDC report follows a similar one released earlier this week by the federal agency showing that the total number of suicides reached a new record high of 49,449 in 2022, a 3% increase from the 48,183 seen in 2021.

In the past two decades, overall rates of suicide have increased by about one-third, over half of which were firearm suicides.

The proportion of suicides being carried out by firearm has been increasing since 2006, according to previous research. About 90% of suicides are carried out via firearm, suffocation, and overdose or poisoning.

Experts believe that the pandemic may have exacerbated known risk factors for depression and suicide such as social isolation and relationship stressors, as well as substance abuse.

An estimated 12.3 million adults have seriously contemplated suicide, with 3.5 million having made a plan and 1.7 million attempting suicide, according to CDC data from 2021. Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the United States, with one death every 11 minutes.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with thoughts of suicide, text or call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. Free help is available 24/7.

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